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Senators resume legislative session

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been over a month since lawmakers met in session and today lawmakers got down to business beginning the discussion on 40 bills, 10 appointments and one resolution.

Day One of the October-November session commenced this morning and while the appointments of nine members for various boards went without any objection, it was the last appointment of Ed Ilao to serve on the Port board for the next three years that had several senators speaking up and against his nomination.

"Despite the close relationship that I have with the Ilao family, despite the close relationship I have with Mr. Ilao, I cannot in good conscience vote for his confirmation for several other reasons," expressed Senator Tom Ada. The senator says he was most disappointed by Ilao's responses during his August 8 reconfirmation hearing where he stated he was unaware of what goes on beyond the boardroom and out in the yard.

"So if you're totally blind or oblivious to what is going on out there, how can you put yourself in a position to make sound policy decisions?" hr asked.

Ada says it was also a port oversight hearing that led his decision that revealed a paper trail showing an attempt to make a sole source procurement to a company owned by Ilao. Ilao has since denied any alleged inappropriate involvement, but it still wasn't enough for Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, who said, "My concern madam chair to this board and any board where he has any business dealings I really do think it's ethically inappropriate to serve on the board."

Cruz was the sole vote in the committee report to not confirm whereas five voted to report out only with two to confirm. Ilao's nomination was eventually sent to the Third Reading File.

Lawmakers meanwhile discussed the first measure on the agenda Senator Tony Ada's Bill 146 relative to the castle doctrine. "People's homes are their castles and they have to right to defend themselves and their loved ones from criminal intruders without fear of reprisal," the bill's author noted.

Co-sponsor Senator Brant McCreadie supported the measure saying it's simply a common sense bill. "Right now the criminals think they can get away with anything and that's why they're doing this," he said.

The measure however drew criticism with some saying they were apprehensive as to whether Bill146 would in fact address rising crime. Senator Michael San Nicolas supports its intent but felt definitions needed to be tightened to where exactly castle doctrine applied. "But the realities as it applies to the way language if written is such that if there is a fight in a high school the students have every right to fight, they have every right to kill each other and nobody can take any action on them," he said.

And while Bill 146 eventually was put aside for Senator Ada to further address the issues raised today, one bill that did move to the Third Reading File was Senator Aline Yamashita's Bill 153 that would require employers to provide reasonable break times for an employee to pump milk for her nursing child and to provide a place other than the bathroom to do so. "The Nana Yan Patgon Act is really a way to say that we support healthy beginnings, we support the women's right to choose to breast feed, we support a child's health in this regard, we support a women's decision to report back to work even though she's breastfeeding," she said.

An amendment was passed allowing for the reasonable breaktimes to be paid for a mother to be able to express milk. Session meanwhile resumes tomorrow.

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